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Eagles hold Catalonia in Spain •Keep scores at 1-1


IGERIA's Super Eagles played out a 1-1 draw with their Catalonian counterparts in a friendly game on yesterday. It was not the best of start for Nigeria in spite of their head coach, Stephen Keshi adopting a two-man striking force in Bright

Dike and Brown Ideye. As early as the second minute, AC Milan striker, Bojan Krkic missed putting the Catalan XI in front from close range via a Joan Verdu cross. A minute later, Sergio Gonzalez converted from the spot to put Catalonia 1-0 up after the centre

•Bright Dike

referee, Xavier Estrada Fernandez, adjudged Fengor Ogude to have handled the ball in the box. Bojan was put through on goal and skipped past Nigeria’s captain and goalkeeper, Chigozie Agbim before Azubuike Egwuekwe hooked the ball clear. Three minutes past the half hour mark, Bojan nearly got on the end of Xavi's chip leaving an onrushing Agbim missing the ball all together. In spite of Nigeria's Super Eagles stemming the wave of Catalonia attack, Barcelona right-back, Martin Montoya still had the time to ghost past Benjamin Francis before his square pass into the box was missed by everyone with ten minutes to the break. Catalonia centre-back, Gerard Pique came close with six minutes to half time after getting on to the end of Xavi's free kick but Agbim narrowed him down. Nigeria carved out the last chance of the first half when SS Lazio youngster, Ogenyi Onazi attempted an audacious strike


Idoko chides Baribote over Abdullahi


MEMBER of the congress of Nigeria Premier League (NPL) Mike Idoko yesterday debunked claims by former Chairman of the board of NPL, Ramson Baribote, that the Honourable Minister of Sports and Chairman National Sports Commission (NSC) Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi instigated his removal as the Chairman. Idoko cited the sorry state of the league, lack of transparency and accountability as some of the reasons that led the congress of NPL to impeach the Baribote-led board. Idoko revealed that all sportloving Nigerians know that all is not well with our league. “We are not robots, we are managers and we all know that all is not well with our league, even my children know that all is not well with our league. We were not instigated by the Honourable Minister; all the 25 members of the congress came together and decided that we need to stop the rot. The league had no sponsor; clubs were paying indemnity, there were litigations here and there, board members change the law as they like or apply the

law when it suits them, we knew the league will go into extinction if we continue that way, that was why we had to act fast’’ Idoko said that as at the time Baribote was made the NPL Chairman, he was not the popular choice, “He was forced on us, his election did not follow due process, and he had the opportunity to solve all the problems and move the league forward, he did not do anything, so why is he now insinuating that congress was instigated by the Minister when it was clear that his gross ineptitude led to his sack”. Idoko who is the Executive Director Ondo State Football Agency wonders where Baribote got the statistics he is using to claim that the NPL is the best league in Africa,“the claim is laughable, I wonder where he got the facts from and what yardstick he is using, but we the members of the congress saw that the league is not well run and that was why we decided to remove the Baribote-led board, we were not instigated by the Honourable Minister or the NFF, we acted to save the league’’ concluded Idoko.The Executive Director

Reviving school sports will recreate athletics, says Obajimi


LORIA Obajimi, a boardmember of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) on Wednesday called for the revival of school sports as a way of stimulating interest in athletics in the country. Obajimi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on telephone that the base on which to breed those to replace the elite athletes had weakened over time. ``We do not have a foundation or programmes where younger athletes can be groomed to replace the ageing elite athletes which have led to some overbearing pressure on the elite athletes. "We cannot forget the schools in the development of sports in the country, especially athletics, because many of us were discovered

from the schools. "This was made possible because there were many competitions available for us to participate in as students, such as inter-school competitions and inter-housesports,” she said. The former international added that the focus on school sports would not only assist in identifying talents at a younger age but create avenues for coaches remain abreast with new developments in the sport. "If sports are revived in schools, it will provide opportunities for qualified coaches to be assigned or employed by such schools and in the process, facilitate the education of coaches. ``Another deficiency of athletics in the country is that our coaches are not adequately educated. Many of them are not up to date,” she said.

said there will be more revelations about the rot during Baribote’s era as the head of the league board once the case is out of court, “ we don’t want to disrespect the court that is why we decided to keep quiet now, but once the case is out of court, there will be a lot of revelations".

from all of 40 yards but it inched just wide over Francisco Casilla's cross bar. Catalonia started the business end as the first with lots of ball possession. On 53 minutes, Martin Montoya was through on goal but Nigeria's skipper on the night, Agbim bravely foiled his attempt on goal inside the box. Two minutes later, out of the blues, Portland Timbers' forward, Dike latched on to Onazi's through pass before cutting inside of his marker to blasting past Casilla to put scores at 1-1 inside the Estadi Cornella-El Prat in Espanyol. It was Dike's first goal in only his second appearance for Nigeria. Catalonia came close to taking the lead with 18 minutes left, as Cristian Tello's wonderful cut back to Jonathan Soriano into the box was blasted over the post. With nine minutes to play, the Super Eagles ventured forward with Emmanuel Emenike played through on goal from Kenneth Omeruo's long ball but his shot is blocked by Getafe keeper, Jordi Codina. In the last five minutes, the Super Eagles kept the shape of their defence against the tiki-taka playing Seleccio Catalana. But with a minute to regulation time, Tello failed to score on his debut for Catalonia when he blazed over the post after he was played on face-to-face with Agbim. Nigeria's Super Eagles used the game against the Catalan XI as a pre-African Cup of Nations game.


AFN assures fairness in selection of athletes


HE Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) on Wednesday said it has put in place measures to guard against age-cheats at the forthcoming Africa Athletics Youth Championships in Warri in March. Commodore Omatseye Nesiama (NN), Technical Director of the federation, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the championships, which is for ages 16 and 17, would hold between March 28 and March 31. “I can assure that participating athletes at the championships will win through fair means because we are not hosting purposely to win, but to show example. “We will ensure that winning is not a do or die affair. There are talks already that we must win at all costs, but I am saying it is not compulsory to win. We are not hosting to win,” he said. According to him, athletes’ real age at the competition will be ascertained through their birth certificates and school records. He added that screening of athletes to ascertain their actual ages would also be conducted through documentation from their parents or guardians. “We must be able to host well without cheating. We are not going to take any athlete that has been in any athletic club for more than a year. “We are going to be serious with our screening because we need to nurture young athletes,’’ Nesiama said. The AFN Technical Director said that the federation does not

need over-aged athletes who would not be able to cope with youth programmes, as they progressed. “In fact, we are not going to allow athletes who are already running for clubs to feature because the competition is mainly to discover new and young talents. “We have different programmes for different categories and if we get it wrong now, we will continue to miss our set objectives and we will be deceiving ourselves. “If we present a team that is truly the reflection of the ages required and we do not win, I have no problem about that. ``I will be happy because we would have assembled the right age of athletes that will be groomed properly for future competitions,’’ he added.

Sturridge signs £12m deal with Liverpool


IVERPOOL FC has confirmed the signing of striker Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea. It is believed the transfer fee is in the region of £12m. Sturridge, who has four caps for England, signed a long-term contract at Liverpool's Melwood training ground yesterday. Sturridge told Liverpool's official website: 'I am humbled and happy to be here. 'Brendan Rodgers said he sees me here for a long time - and I also see myself here for a long time. I've not signed here to play for a couple of years and then move on. 'I've signed to be here for as long as possible. It's a humongous club - for me, one of the biggest in the world - and to have the fans and worldclass players we have here is

amazing.' He added: 'I see myself as a striker. I think I perform best there because my attributes, I believe, are best as a central striker. But I have played on the wing and have learned a lot doing so. 'I’d never refuse to play in that position and I’ve never demanded to play up front, either. 'For me, whatever the manager wants me to do I will do it and work as hard as I can for the club and the fans. I’ll try to put a smile on the fans’ faces and try to bring some success to the club - it would be amazing.'

Ezekiel nominated for Player of the Month award


OP Belgian newspaper DHNet has nominated Standard Liege striker Imoh Ezekiel for the Player of the Month in December. To clinch the award, Ezekiel has to see off competition from Mbokani Dieumerci, the Congolese striker of Anderlecht and midfielder Maxime

Lestienne, who plays for Club Brugge. This is the second time Ezekiel has been shortlisted for the award after his nomination last August. Note that the former 36 Lion ace has scored in each of the last five games played by Standard Liege in the Belgian championship.


Nwosu counsels Garba on Eaglets F

ORMER Golden Eaglets’ Coach, Henry Nwosu, has urged the current handler of the team to be focused as he strives for a good outing at the Africa U17 Championship in Morocco. Nwosu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos that Manu Garba, Head Coach of the National U-17 team should not relent in his effort at making the country proud at the championship. “The team should ensure that they perform well at the upcoming championship and come out tops,” Nwosu said. He enjoined the coach to make use of capable players who would deliver the gold medal to the country, stressing that only the willing and experienced ones should be given a chance. According to him, the Golden Eaglets must ensure that they perform well in

order to win the event. Nwosu added that the team must also strive to go the extra mile by striving to overcome their counterparts, particularly by studying their style of play. “Preparation is not limited to training alone but you should be given opportunities of watching tapes of matches involving opposing teams, in order to master their patterns of play,’’ he said. NAN reports that Nigeria won the maiden U16 World Cup in 1985, then known as the JVC U-16, the FIFA U-17 in 1993 and the 2007 edition. The team also won the African U-17 Championship in 2001 and 2007 and were runners-up in 1995. The Moroccan championship has been scheduled to hold from April 13 – April 27.

Lawmaker advocates grassroots sports development


HE Chief whip of Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA), Hon. Razaq Balogun has emphasised the need to seek talented boxers at the grassroots because most of them exist at that level waiting to be explored. Balogun who spoke at the Hon. Razaq Balogun 2012 Annual Boxing Day Tournament, Surulere Constituency 11, noted that the annual event discovered some of the talents who made impact at the just concluded Eko 2012 held in Lagos State. He told NationSport that his

By Musa Odoshimokhe interest in the sports of boxing started long ago but took the decision to be fully involved in the development when he was a guest of honour during the promotion of a similar event recently. He said: “The sport started a year ago, this is our second anniversary. I’m sure we have discovered some talents who have been making impact in the game at the local and state levels. We have had those who represented the state at the just concluded Eko 2012

and they made impact at the sports festival.” Balogun maintained that in view of his love for the game of boxing he would do everything within his limited resources to contribute his quota to the development of the game in the state and in Nigeria in general. “I believe with continuous encouragement, we can go places with the game. We intend to keep the game as long as we can muster the energy, remain in office and outside office. I think it is something we can afford sponsor on yearly basis.”